Bridging Knowledge Gaps with Flexible College Courses in London, Ontario

Bridging Knowledge Gaps with Flexible College Courses in London, Ontario

Fanshawe College, London, Ontario
Brent Biro
Math Technologist
43,000 postsecondary learners
Courseware
5.5% international students
The Challenge: 

In the study of mathematics, if students don’t understand how to multiply fractions, then they’ll struggle with solving equations; essential skills are cumulative. For many students entering college and universities, it’s not uncommon to need some level of remediation to build a strong foundational knowledge base in order to move on to more advanced courses. That’s why the Access Studies program at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, Canada, attracts students who wish to take foundational courses to fill in knowledge gaps.

In fact, for over a decade, Fanshawe College has partnered with Edmentum to utilize its grades 6–12 digital curricula, Courseware, to offer students courses that will help them set a baseline foundation in math, literacy, and career readiness. By offering a digital curriculum, Fanshawe College provides its students from all walks of life with flexible courses that adapt and accommodate to their varying needs.  

Brent Biro, math technologist, has been teaching students in the Access Studies department at Fanshawe College since 2015. He’s had a wide range of students in his classes just needing that extra push to fill in knowledge gaps they previously struggled with in school. With the help of Courseware’s customizable online curricula, Mr. Biro has been able to help students understand topics they didn’t previously enjoy.

Fanshawe College has partnered with Courseware for over 10 years to offer math, literacy, and college-readiness courses to adult learners hoping to strengthen foundational skills before moving to more advanced courses in their post-secondary plans. The strong combination of dedicated teachers and Courseware’s flexible curricula has helped students bridge the transition to digital learning amid COVID-19 restrictions.
How They Did it: 

When students join an Access Studies class, they first take a diagnostic placement test and then attend a one-week orientation to learn the basics of using Courseware. After the orientation, students receive a welcome email with a collection of information on the basics of how to sign in to their courses, access help, and contact their instructors directly.

Due to COVID-19, all classes are now conducted virtually. Fortunately, because Fanshawe College was already using digital curricula and the format of the orientation process can easily be adapted virtually, the transition from a physical classroom to a virtual one hasn’t been critically disruptive for Fanshawe College students taking Courseware courses.

“Without that one-on-one in-person attention, [onboarding] can be hard to do in a purely digital manner,” explained Mr. Biro. “But, [Courseware] has allowed us to continue a mostly normal program moving forward. I would say it really did make our transition easy.”

The initial diagnostic test that students take determines which Courseware modules they need to work through. At any given moment throughout the week, an entire class can be working on different modules but building the same foundational knowledge they all need to move forward to more advanced concepts. The flexibility of online courses enables students to work on their coursework at their own pace and in their own time, knowing that an instructor is only a call or email away should they have questions.

“[With Courseware], I can have a classroom full of 40 students, and each one can be working on what they need to learn, when they need to learn it, and at the rate that they need to learn it,” shared Mr. Biro. “It’s something you don't often get with a more traditional delivery method.”.

Another feature that has been particularly useful is the Custom Course Builder tool that is designed to customize assignments to suit specific needs, offering instructors a flexibility that has been invaluable. For example, the province of Ontario experienced a shortage of auto body specialists. So, Fanshawe College’s automotive department reached out to Mr. Biro’s program to get a custom course specifically created for incoming students interested in this specialty who needed to prove mastery in foundational topics for their diploma requirements.  

We have a wide variety of learners who have all kinds of different situations in their lives, and the ability to self-pace and self-manage is really a key ability that Edmentum provides.
Brent Biro
Math Technologist
Success: 

The success of Fanshawe College’s ability to provide a virtual program that is flexible enough to accommodate students with varying schedules and responsibilities has allowed students to attend courses they would have otherwise been unable to take under more inflexible learning formats. Additionally, with the immediate feedback that Courseware lessons provide, students can easily gauge how well they are doing and focus on content customized specifically for them.

“You have those small, achievable goals [in which students] get constant feedback that they’re on the right track,” shared Mr. Biro. “We have a wide variety of learners who have all kinds of different situations in their lives, and the ability to self-pace and self-manage is really a key ability that Edmentum provides.”

The Access Studies program has seen a high success rate of earned college diplomas and high school equivalency diplomas from Fanshawe College. Mr. Biro explained that many of the students accepted into the program were learners who typically had trouble in school in the past. 

“The ability to start from essentially square one and build up and fill in these gaps in their knowledge before progressing to the more complicated topics, I think, has been a very valuable tool,” offered Mr. Biro.

[With Courseware], I can have a classroom full of 40 students, and each one can be working on what they need to learn, when they need to learn it, and at the rate that they need to learn it.
Brent Biro
Math Technologist
The Future: 

The success of using Courseware during provincewide COVID-19 lockdowns has brought a flexibility to the classroom that Mr. Biro would like to continue to see in more Fanshawe College departments in the future. He predicts that the trend in education will continue further into blended learning.

“[The program] being entirely digital has been successful because [the students] have been able to work around their time conflicts a little more flexibly,” explained Mr. Biro. “It might be something we look at in the future, as well as [continuing to provide] a purely digital version of our program as an option.”

For more infomation:

Contact 800.447.5286 or visit www.edmentum.com to learn more about Edmentum's online learning solutions.